Galapagos highlight: Charles Darwin Research Station
See Galapagos giant tortoises in all stages of development – from tiny babies to adult behemoths. Plus a breeding program for land iguanas and other informative exhibits.
The Charles Darwin Foundation is an international non-profit which has been working with the Ecuadorian government since 1959 to provide scientific knowledge and assistance to help conserve the Galapagos’ unique ecosystems. In addition to the invaluable scientific work there is a small visitors’ centre at their HQ near Puerto Ayora.
You will encounter adult Galapagos giant tortoises at several points on your Galapagos adventure, but the Charles Darwin Research Station affords you the opportunity of seeing them at all stages of growth from unhatched eggs to full-grown adults. It is quite incredible to see the young hatchlings which weigh as little as 1.8 ounces and measure only 2.4 inches. Remember: the hatchery is about far more than pleasing tourists: when the tortoises are big enough to fend for themselves they are released into the wild, thus preserving the species for generations to come.
In addition to the tortoises, there is a captive breeding program for land iguanas. When a pack of wild dogs brought over from the mainland nearly decimated a colony of iguanas in the 1970s, the 60 survivors were brought to the research station, and their impressive descendants are still going strong.
The Charles Darwin foundation plays a pivotal role in the conservation of the archipelago’s biodiversity and a visit to the research station is an essential component of any Galapagos itinerary. It was also, until recently, the home to the most famous tortoise in the world: Lonesome George passed away in 2012.
Full credit to Flickr user Claumoho for the cover image of this blog.